Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney
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|Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney|
European cover art featuring (from left to right) Luke, Layton, Phoenix, and Maya.
|Genre(s)||Adventure, puzzle, visual novel|
Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney[a] is a visual novel adventure puzzle video game for the Nintendo 3DS, and was developed by both Level-5 and Capcom, the former publishing it in Japan while Nintendo published it worldwide. The game is a crossover between two games series from both developers, combining the puzzle and exploration elements of Level-5's Professor Layton series, and the general trial mechanics of Capcom's Ace Attorney adventure series, the latter enhanced by the addition of a few new elements. Shu Takumi, the series director for the Ace Attorney series, assisted with the scenario designs for the game. The plot focuses on Professor Layton and Phoenix Wright, along with their associated assistants, working together to solve the mystery behind a young girl that they both encounter separately, and a strange world they are brought to through her, with Layton focused on finding clues to solve the mystery, while Wright focuses on protecting people who are put on trial for being "witches".
The game follows Professor Layton, Luke Triton, Phoenix Wright and Maya Fey as they attempt to solve the mystery of Labyrinthia. The game has two main styles of gameplay, Adventure and Witch Trial, which feature elements from the Professor Layton and Ace Attorney series respectively. The game features voice acting and animated cutscenes, a staple in the Professor Layton games but a first for the Ace Attorney series. This has since become a new standard for the latter series, starting with Dual Destinies, which was released in Japan after the crossover title.
During Adventure segments, players can explore various environments, conversing with characters and examining background objects in order to find clues to solving the mystery of Labyrinthia. The control scheme is similar to the one introduced in Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask, in which players navigate the environments by moving around a cursor on the screen. Investigating certain areas or conversing with certain characters reveals various puzzles, which task players with finding its solution. Solving these puzzles earn Picarats, with more earned for making fewer mistakes, which go towards unlocking bonus content. Throughout these sections, players may also find Hint Coins which can be spent to unlock hints whilst solving puzzles.
In the Witch Trial sections, players take control of Phoenix Wright as he cross-examines witnesses in order to defend his client. While cross-examining a witness, the player can press them for more details, which can sometimes yield new information or evidence. The player's main task is to look for contradictions in the witness statements and present the evidence that contradicts their statement. If the player presents the wrong evidence at the wrong time, the player will lose a strike, with the game ending if the player loses all of their strikes. This time around, Phoenix will occasionally experience a "mob trial", forcing him to cross-examine multiple witnesses at once. Whilst pressing one witness, another may react to one of their statements, and questioning them may yield new information or evidence. In addition to the Court Record, which contains evidence on the case, Phoenix also has access to the Grand Grimoire, a book of magic spells which can also be used as evidence. Hint coins found during the Adventure segments can also be used during trials, providing hints on how the player should progress. Additional Picarats are earned at the end of each trial based on how many strikes are remaining.
Level-5 announced that they would release downloadable content for the game, including a new storyline, written by Shu Takumi, which would be split up in 12 episodes. It is playable when the game has been cleared once. The downloadable content, which included new puzzles and gallery items, was released every Wednesday for 24 weeks, starting on December 12, 2012, with the different kinds of downloadable content alternating each week.
In PAL regions, the content was offered in a similar manner, starting with a story episode on the game's release date, and then releasing new content every week until the start of September. In North America, content was released regularly over the course of six weeks beginning on the game's release date.
The downloadable story episodes, which are considered non-canon and frequently break the fourth wall, take place one year after the events of the game and feature Layton, Luke, Phoenix, and Maya returning to Labyrinthia for a visit.
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An 18-year-old girl in London named Espella Cantabella is chased after by a mysterious force and seeks the aid of Professor Hershel Layton and his apprentice, Luke Triton. The three are attacked by what appears to be witches; Espella escapes on a cargo freighter while Layton and Luke are drawn into a medieval town called Labyrinthia. Espella is quickly arrested for assault and theft when the freighter docks. American defense attorney Phoenix Wright and his assistant Maya Fey take the case and discover that Espella stumbled upon a jewel smuggling operation and was attacked by the supposed victim. Afterwards, they are drawn into Labyrinthia as well.
Layton and Luke learn that Labyrinthia is allegedly home to witches who hide in the shadows, and is controlled by someone called the Storyteller, who allegedly has the power to turn anything he writes into reality. The town's Knights of the Inquisition, led by the High Inquisitor Lady Darklaw, prosecute and execute by fire all discovered witches in the Witch's Court. The Inquisition seeks to locate the Great Witch Bezella, the mythical leader of the witches who caused Labyrinthia's devastating Legendary Fire thousands of years ago. Layton and Luke discover Phoenix and Maya, having been brainwashed into thinking they are bakers. When Espella is accused of witchcraft, she calls on Phoenix to defend her; he successfully disproves the charges, and he and Maya overcome their brainwashing.
As the four continue to investigate Labyrinthia, Layton is attacked by a witch and turned into a gold statue. Maya is accused of the attack and the murder of alchemist Newton Belduke, and Phoenix proves that Belduke committed suicide and Maya did not attack Layton. He also learns that Espella is the Storyteller's daughter. Over the course of the trial, Belduke's butler is outed as a witch; Espella confesses to being Bezella so she will not be executed. Maya rescues Espella, only to be apparently executed in her place, while Phoenix, Luke, and Espella escape.
The unharmed Layton and Maya awaken in a forest outside town, and discover a settlement populated by Shades, hooded figures who worship the Great Witch. The two make their way into some underground ruins, where they regroup with Phoenix and his companions. The five discover the remnants of an ancient civilization that sealed a Bell of Ruin after it caused a disaster. The discovery causes Espella to suddenly have visions of the Legendary Fire, declare herself to be Bezella, and flee. When the group returns to town, Bezella appears and apparently kills the Storyteller with a colossal fire dragon. Espella is arrested and charged with the murder, and Darklaw personally prosecutes the case. Layton and Luke depart for the Storyteller's Tower to investigate him, and discover him alive and well at the tower's summit. Layton realizes that the Storyteller's story is being sabotaged by outside forces. Meanwhile, Phoenix deduces that Darklaw herself was the one who intended to frame Espella. Layton returns and assumes the role of prosecutor so Darklaw can testify. Over the course of this final trial, Espella, Darklaw, and the Storyteller all take the witness stand.
It is revealed that the Storyteller's real name is Arthur Cantabella, the president of a chemicals company called Labrelum Inc. Labyrinthia is an artificial research facility designed to test the human effects of a mind-controlling substance found in the groundwater that causes anyone who drinks it to lose consciousness at the sound of silver being struck, and all of its inhabitants volunteered to have their memories wiped so they could start new lives in exchange for becoming test subjects. The Legendary Fire occurred when the Bell of Ruin caused the townspeople to simultaneously fall unconscious as a result of these chemicals and the town's fires got out of control. Believing herself to be responsible for ringing the bell, Espella became obsessed with the idea that she was possessed by the mythical Bezella, and Cantabella created Labyrinthia's witches and mythology to counteract Espella's condition. He had the Shades create the illusions of magic and indoctrinate anyone "killed" as a result of witchcraft or the Witch Trials into their number. Belduke and Darklaw were both in on the project, and Belduke killed himself due to accumulated guilt over the long-term deception. Darklaw is revealed to be Belduke's daughter and Espella's childhood friend Eve, who blamed Cantabella for her father's suicide; she lured Layton into Labyrinthia and sabotaged the story to exact revenge on him, and was forced to include Phoenix when he unwittingly got involved. Phoenix and Layton deduce that she was the one who rang the bell, and suffered amnesia about the event afterwards.
Afterwards, Eve reconciles with Cantabella and Espella. Espella finally recovers from her trauma, and Cantabella concludes the Labyrinthia project and lifts the hypnosis. The townspeople decide to stay in Labyrinthia, and Phoenix, Layton, Maya, and Luke all return to London.
The game was officially announced at the Level-5 Vision 2010 press conference on October 19, 2010. The game was originally an idea that Akihiro Hino, CEO of Level-5, came up with and a project that he himself proposed to Capcom, sometime after some initial development work had been completed on the project. Jun Suzuki, the producer for the Layton series, noted that Hino was a huge fan of the Ace Attorney series and even had challenged Suzuki to "produce something on par with Ace Attorney" while developing the Layton games. The idea came as a surprise to Shu Takumi, series designer for the Ace Attorney series. Keiji Inafune, head of Capcom's R&D Management Group, was "80 per cent certain" that Takumi would refuse the idea. However, according to Inafune, Hino was able convince Takumi to accept the idea, giving him creative control as the main scenario writer for the project, although Takumi was not in charge of the script. The game features animated cutscenes produced by Bones.
Inafune stated the game is a true collaboration between the two companies jointly sharing in the effort, as opposed to the licensing of characters by one company; he felt that "we wanted to create a great history, which would have been impossible if both parties were not fully involved". Hino recognized that fans of both series would "want to see a showdown" between the lead characters as well as sections where the two "join hands and take on a really big challenge". Both Level-5 and Capcom are contributing towards the game's development, though Capcom is specifically handling the visual design while Level-5 will publish the game. The artwork style used is a mix between the detailed visuals from the Ace Attorney series and the flatter cartoons from the Layton games; the mixed style is a result of a drawn-out trial-and-error process to figure out how best to mix the two conflicting styles. The game will support the 3D effects on the Nintendo 3DS console; though Level-5's developers have already worked with this feature in the release of Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask in 2011, this will be the first Ace Attorney game to support that feature. Takumi was initially hesitant of this feature, but has since come to appreciate it, realizing that the 3D visuals "[let] us present the action from different angles and really [expand] the freedom of expression we have" with the courtroom parts of the game.
The game was first hinted at as a crossover between Capcom and Level-5 by Inafune, who was talking to Japanese business magazine Diamond prior to the Tokyo Game Show 2010, where he mentioned that he had great respect for Akihiro Hino, the CEO of Level-5. On September 25, 2010 the game was outed on Twitter when Jiro Ishii of Level-5 accidentally tweeted to Jin Fujisawa of Square Enix, "Huh? Oh, Gyakuten XX. I'm making it, with Mr. Takumi!" in Japanese. This led to rampant speculation of a new Ace Attorney game being developed by Level-5, similar to how new Capcom games from established franchises are being developed externally, such as DmC: Devil May Cry being developed by British developer Ninja Theory. The mistake was quickly covered up by Jiro Ishii who tweeted later that day that, "A misunderstanding seems to be spreading, so let me say that I'm currently working only on Time Travelers" Yo Oizumi and Maki Horikita, who voiced Professor Layton and Luke in previous games reprise their roles, whilst Phoenix and Maya are voiced by Hiroki Narimiya and Mirei Kiritani, who also played their roles in the Gyakuten Saiban live action film.
The game had originally only been announced for release in Japan, with Capcom gauging interest from the community over whether or not to localize it for other territories. In July 2011, Level-5 International America Inc. conducted a Facebook poll in which fans were asked what currently Japan-only Level-5 game they had the most interest in. Professor Layton Vs. Ace Attorney ultimately won the most votes, with over 6,000. Although the game had yet to be officially announced for release outside Japan, an English-language press release from Capcom at Tokyo Game Show 2011 hinted as such. Journalists had also noted the game's listing on various Western online retailer, further suggesting a release outside Japan. Level-5's CEO Akihiro Hino had earlier stated that Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney will be released in North America and Europe by its international studio in 2013, however a more recent statement from Level 5 following its Japanese release asserted that a Western release had not been confirmed or announced.
During Japan Expo 2013 in France, when asked about a localization of the game, Level-5 CEO Akihiro Hino said that "something was in the works", but that he couldn't talk about it at the time. Level-5 International America posted about it on their Facebook page later the same day. A release for North America and Europe was finally confirmed on Nintendo's Nintendo Direct presentation on August 7, 2013, slated for release in 2014. Due to the fact the North American release fully retains the European localisation as is, this is the first Professor Layton game in the region that features Maria Darling's voice as Luke Triton, instead of Lani Minella as in previous games.
The soundtrack to the game was a collaborative effort between Professor Layton series' composer Tomohito Nishiura and newcomer Yasumasa Kitagawa—both of them, aside from composing new tracks, arranged music from previous installments of both franchises, with Kitagawa arranging some compositions from Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney composer Masakazu Sugimori. Nishiura and Kitagawa arranged and orchestrated the music with the help of Yumiko Hashizume and Norihito Sumitomo; whom had both previously worked on the Professor Layton series. Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney contains re-orchestrated versions of various tracks from both series' games, as well as newly composed pieces. While the arranged pieces were used mostly with gameplay, the animated cutscenes were accompanied by more cinematic orchestral music. All orchestral pieces were performed by Layton Grand Caravan Orchestra.
Awarding it a score of 9 out of ten, Oliver Jia of Game-OST.com praised the album as "the soundtrack that fans of both series have been wanting for years." Luna Lee of RPGFan Music similar responded favorably to the soundtrack, but criticized the tracks for being, "segregated into two camps and [having] few overlaps with one another."
Japanese pre-orders of the game included a special bonus soundtrack containing five musical tracks and a celluloid film strip containing select animation cels. The entire soundtrack was officially released on a 3-disc set as Layton Kyouju VS Gyakuten Saiban Mahou Ongaku Taizen (lit. Professor Layton vs. Gyakuten Saiban Magical Mystery Music) on April 10, 2013. The first disc contains all Professor Layton related tracks, the second disc contains all Ace Attorney related tracks, and the third disc contains the music used during the cinematic cutscenes throughout the game.
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Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney received "favorable" reviews according to video game review aggregator Metacritic. Chris Kohler of Wired, in playing the Japanese version, felt the game was a missed opportunity for the crossover; while he thought the gameplay mechanics and the tweaks worked well with complementary styles, he noted that only the two main cast members from each series were brought into the game, and that the game relied on new and what he considered uninteresting characters to flesh out the story.
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